I've been busy lately which means that when I get together with friends there is a lot to catch up on, especially when you have to tell them you leaving the state for law school. Everything was fine until it was asked if I had seen the So-and-so Family lately. I'm not one for hiding my true feelings so I explained that the So-and-so Family and I are not speaking due to a tiff we had.

Mr. So-and-so is a private practice attorney. In my opinion he is somewhat a traditionalist when it comes to gender (ok, sexist is a better word but I don't want it to sound too harsh). He attended a very expensive Tier-4 law school and likes to tell everyone how much law school is a waste of time. The Janitor believes that he went to law school to make a lot of money and is most likely disappointed in his law school experience and job opportunities to date. The tiff occurred when I told them I was applying to law school and that it would be nice to see them more since we would most likely move out of the area come fall. Mr. So-and-so then interrogated me on the schools I applied to, why I wanted to go to law school, what and where I wanted to practice AND notified me that I would NOT be accepted to my first choice school due to it being an extremely selective school. He also broke down my school choices by the Tier they were in, their ranking, etc-as if I didn't know anything about them. (Again, he went to a Tier-4 school so who was he to judge my choices when he didn't have many.) This was also coming from a guy who was supposed to be my friend. He told me I would be better off becoming a nurse.

So what's the deal? Why is it that some law school graduates feel the need to express reasons why NOT to attend law school? What if I have thought everything through? What if I've worked with the law and enjoy it? What if I've experienced other careers I thought I would enjoy and still believe that law would be a good place for me? I graduated college five years ago. I've experienced life. I don't believe that I'm making a piss decision here. Is it really hard to believe that some people actually want to study and practice law?

I don't know what I'm in for but I'll never know if I don't go. I appreciate the concern (wait, it was more of a ranting) that Mr. So-and-so gave but I think I'm old enough to make a sound decision; especially when it requires so much in student loans.

(Oh, and I DID get accepted to my first choice school WITH a scholarship THAT I'll be attending. However, the maturity in me says to keep quiet, he'll figure it out and hopefully realize what an ass he was making of himself.)


  1. Tokyo Kiss said...
    I think that the majority of the people who scream about how people shouldn't go to law school went for the wrong reasons. Because they have a BA and don't know what to do with it, because want to continue living as a student for 3 more years, because mom and dad and everyone else says they should, because they randomly took the LSAT and did well and why not?, because they think there's money in law, etc, etc. Of course these people are setting themselves up for failure and a life of being bitter about the choices they've made. Unfortunately it seems like way more people go to law school for the wrong reasons than the "right" ones, which is why there are so many complaints. You sound like you know what you're doing, so I wouldn't be concerned about people like that!

    Personally I would've told the guy that I did in fact get into my first choice with some cash, but that's because I'm not that mature when someone ticks me off. Haha!
    Kel said...
    There is still a smidge in me that wants to go NEENER NEENER!! And if he does inquire to either myself or the Janitor we plan on accentuating scholarship.
    Shells said...
    I hate when people are patronizing about your educational choices. My boyfriend (who is studying for the bar) walks a fine line with this, but at the end of the day I truly believe he's playing devil's advocate in an attempt to make sure that I'm sure. I've run into a lot of other people who want to tell me to go to law school, not to go to law school, where to go to law school... I think in general this unsolicited advice, especially when it has a rant-like quality, is incredibly offensive to an adult woman who has put a lot of thought into such a big decision. Especially when you've spent a few years out of school exploring your other options. I'm sure you'd love to be there when he finds out he was completely and totally wrong, and you were accepted to your first choice!
    Amber said...
    I feel the need to scream about not going to law school because I went to law school with a bunch of people who shouldn't have been there. I knew it, they knew it, and they spent the entire time racking up debt and working on their screenplays. These people were wastes of class space. You're the thoughtful outlier. Rejoice in your superiority.
    Cliff said...
    I think the reason people warn about law school is that law school, like having a child, is one of the few irreversible decisions you can make in life.

    I attended a top 15 school, but I did not get a high paying job after graduation. My wife is a public interest attorney. Both of us graduated law school in '97.

    When we met in 1999, we had about $200,000 in total debt. The interest on our combined debt was more than $1500/month and our minimum required payments were over $2000/month. That is before touching principal!

    With both of us working full time we have whittled the debt down to around $60,000 over the past decade. However, it has been a slow, arduous process. We delayed having kids until 2006 and we have lived very frugally over the years.

    When I hear about people taking on $120,000 or $150,000 for *one* law student, I wonder how they will ever pay it off. If you do not get a job at a top law firm (and most lawyers don't--even if they go to top schools) then it is a very tough road. Most small law firms pay starting lawyers between $40,000-$80,000/year.

    For a lawyer making $60,000, they will take home around $40,000 after taxes. That is $3300/month. If you have to pay $1500 toward student loans, it leaves you with $1800 for rent, food, utilities, entertainment, etc... Not a very nice lifestyle.

    And you can't quit your $60,000/year job. Forget about ever taking time off to travel, etc., because if you do, it will be costing you hundreds of dollars in additional debt every month--the interest accrual is unforgiving and relentless.

    If you can get a scholarship, or get family help, or otherwise avoid a huge debt burden, then go for it. Otherwise, proceed cautiously and with your eyes open--and don't make any aggressive assumptions about your future earning potential.
    Kel said...

    Thanks for the heads up. I know what I'm getting into financially and it's frightening. Hopefully I'll be able to keep my scholarship. And I'll have a SO working so I won't have to take so much out to live on. That will help!
    Cliff said...
    That is just my point. If you really know what you are getting into and you have prepared a spreadsheet with conservative assumptions about future earnings and debt payments, then it should not be frightening.

    If you have done this analysis and you are willing to spend 10 or 15 years living like a student and paying down debt after law school, or if you are willing to continue to carry the debt for 25-30 years after law school with somewhat more manageable payments, then it should not be frightening. It should be sobering.

    Law school is *not* a quick ticket to riches. However, if you settle into a law career for the long term, then it may *eventually* be worth it. Especially if you can find a lucrative niche and stick with it.

    However, keep in mind that unless you marry someone with a good career and minimal debt (this is not sexist because I would give the same advice to a man), it will take a very long time to pay off debt. And the payoff times above assume that you do not incur other unusual expenses (expensive wedding, kids, buying a house, buying a non-beater car, etc.)

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